BMW and Tesla aren’t exactly buddy companies and they don’t let their rivalry go unnoticed. Tesla’s Elon Musk always takes shots at BMW’s performance models whenever Tesla launches a new one of its own and BMW’s brass are always taking their own shots at Tesla. Just recently, BMW CEO Oliver Zipse decided to fire off yet another shot at the Silicon Valley-based brand.
During a recent conference call with German publication Handelsblatt, the topic of Tesla came up and Zipse implied that the Californian-based brand doesn’t compete with BMW in the premium space.
“Where we differ is our standard on quality and reliability,” Zipse told Handelsblatt. “We have different aspirations on customer satisfaction.”
This isn’t a new sentiment from German automakers, nor is it unfounded. Since Tesla’s debut Model S, the brand has been well regarded for its powertrain tech but heavily criticized for its quality, reliability, and dependability. Not only do almost all Tesla vehicles have quality issues but customers often have to either wait extended periods of time for repairs or struggle to find parts. Whereas brands like BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, Volkswagen, Volvo, Cadillac, and Lexus all not only offer superior reliability but far better customer service.
Of course, BMW can’t hold a candle to Tesla’s sales volume, which is likely due to its models’ superior range and vastly superior charging network. However, Zipse still doesn’t see Tesla as a major player in the premium segment.
“Tesla isn’t quite part of the premium segment,” he said. “They are growing very strongly via price reductions. We would not do that since you have got to last the distance.”
While Zipse isn’t exactly wrong, it’s likely unwise to dismiss Tesla altogether. Forget the “premium” aspect of competition for a moment, as most Tesla customers care very little about BMW’s traditional “premium” standards. What Tesla customers want is a great electric car, first and foremost, and Tesla provides that, along with the best charging infrastructure in the business. So as snooty as BMW wants to be about quality, luxury, and customer service, Tesla is still crushing BMW’s electric efforts.
BMW is certainly gaining more market share in the EV segment but Tesla still dominates. However, BMW can absolutely gain some ground with the newly launched i4 and iX. Both cars are not only all-new electric vehicles but they’re designed and priced to attract traditional BMW customers. And while BMW doesn’t have the electric sales figures of Tesla, it sells more 3 Series’ in five minutes than Tesla sells vehicles all year (obvious hyperbole, chill out, Tesla stans). If BMW can bring some of those gas-engine customers over to its electric vehicles, its EV sales will drastically increase.